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Friday, August 24, 2018

Free Carillon Concert Sunday at Grace Church

The bells in the Pittis Carillon are susupended
in the tower at the front of the church.

The community is warmly invited to enjoy a free Carillon Concert Sunday at Noon at Grace Episcopal Church at East 7th Street and Cleveland Avenue. (And of course anyone is welcome at the 10:30 AM service which immediately precedes the concert.)

The concert is best heard from the Cleveland Avenue side of the church. Be sure to bring a beach chair to enjoy the concert. Parking is available on the street near the church and in the public lot across 7th Street.

The concert features carillonneur Andy Zhang.

Zhang began playing the carillon in the fall of 2012 with the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs. Since then, he has served as Tour Manager, Social Chair, and Summer Carillonneur.  At the 2015 Congress in Springfield, MO, he became a Carillonneur Member of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America.

 Andy graduated from Yale University in May of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and Linguistics. At present, he is continuing his research full-time in the Yale Language & Brain lab as a PhD student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Yale Linguistics Department. Andy’s main interests revolve around the architecture of the human language faculty and its interfaces with the greater cognitive system, the structure of knowledge storage, and the processes underlying meaning composition in the mind/brain.

Andy loves to travel the world and, fortunately, also has a knack for using points and miles to fund his plane tickets. He has traipsed through more than 40 countries on six continents in the past few years and has played carillon in 10 of those countries on four continents.


Grace Episcopal Church is blessed to have one of four carillons in the state of New Jersey.

The Grace Carillon was dedicated as a two octave carillon in March 1923. It was manufactured and installed by the English foundry Gillett & Johnston.

The carillon was later doubled in size by brothers Walter and Bertram Pittis. The new bells were manufactured by the French firm Fonderie Paccard.  The second dedication was in May 1976.

Here are some facts about the Pittis Carillon --

  • Traditional carillon of 47 bells
  • Pitch of heaviest bell is E in the middle octave
  • Keyboard range: C C / C G
  • The largest bell weighs 2296 pounds and is over 5 feet tall

The keyboard from which the carillon is played
Note the foot pedals, connected to the largest bells.

The carillon is played from a keyboard located one floor beneath the bell chamber in the tower. The keys are struck with the half-closed hand.

In addition, the larger bells are connected to foot pedals. The keyboard allows expression through variation of touch.

Individual cables connect each bell to the keyboard.  The bells remain stationary.  The wire pulls the clapper into the bell. The 47 bells are arranged on steel and wooden beams.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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